Initially, the Russian government only allowed the adoption of infants and children with special needs; however, in 1995, new legislation enacted by the Russian government allowed the adoption of healthy infants and children by foreign
Two groups of children are typically available for an international adoption from Russia, babies relinquished in the
hospital at birth to orphanages, and older children who are removed from their families because of neglect. There are over a million orphans in Russia, the majority of which are true orphans, or have parents who were unable to provide for them. Most major
cities have several orphanage-type facilities called baby houses which house children from birth to approximately 4 to 5 years of age. Older children ranging from 5 to 18 years of age are frequently held at boarding schools or other facilities called
In so far as specific types of children that are available, infants and children from approximately ages 6 months to 14 years old are available. Orphans in Russia are required to
remain on a data bank registry for domestic adoption for at least six months prior to being released for international adoption. Many families wish for a child "as young as possible." Realistically,
"young as possible" means the child will be between 9-14 months of age when you bring him or her home.
When selecting a child's gender, be advised that boys are more readily available than girls. In addition to healthy children, siblings and children with special needs are also available. For some families age or the sex of the child
is the main concern while for other adopting persons the medical information is the main concern. Other families feel that appearance is a higher priority, while some individuals are simply open to any child whom they are referred. You should make sure
to discuss your preferences with your U.S. based adoption agency and the agency conducting your home study.
A SPECIAL NOTE ON THE MEDICAL CONDITION OF CHILDREN:
Families who are interested in adopting from Russia need to be aware that many, if not most, of the children available for adoption from Russia have medical diagnoses in their records. Frequently prospective adoptive parents are frightened
when viewing a Russian medical report describing the child that has been referred to them. This is because the information often seems to be at odds with what their agency has told them, with the previous information received about the child,
and even with the evidence of their own eyes as they look at the child before them in the orphanage or baby home. In some cases, the children's diagnoses are exaggerated, or false. At other times, the diagnosis is more reflective of
the Russian medical system than a condition we would understand in American medicine since medical interpretations and terminology vary country to country. A major difficulty with understanding and interpreting these reports stems from the differences
in the U.S. and Russian medical systems and the training the physicians receive. Russian physicians practice medicine differently from the typical U.S. physician. Diagnostic categories are different, concepts of pathology and disease are different
as are methods of assessment, and the psychology of physicians is different. Even within the same field, the lack of formal standardized certification and postgraduate training makes it appear that even specialists speak different languages from
But an adopting family who is adopting from Russia needs to understand that the diagnosis does exist in the child's record and that the information provided may be totally accurate. Additionally, families need to understand that many
of the infants and children available for adoption from Russia are likely to have developmental delays and may also suffer from malnutrition as well as other effects of being institutionalized. Consequently, we encourage an adopting family to consult
with international pediatricians who are familiar with foreign medical jargon and best equipped to assist the adopting family in making a commitment to a child. We have included in this website's resource section several websites to help you begin
to address medical concerns.